The following thoughts seem to be bubbling to the surface of my mind tonight like the little spring on the West end of my dad’s timber…..
Thursday morning on the way to work, I spotted a young Amish man three stories up, installing two by four’s on a steep house roof. Parked on the side street sat their work trailer loaded with metal. I could tell by where he was on the roof, he must have started working at least an hour and one half, possibly two hours before.
I also noticed there was no scaffolding at the bottom of the roof, just an extension ladder on one corner . That concerned me for several reasons, mostly because of safety.
(It’s also highly illegal to be that high off the ground without some kind of safety measures in place, but that’s another topic for another day)
I described this scenario to another carpenter Saturday night at our grandson’s birthday party. We talked about the long hours and unsafe working conditions the Amish roofing crews in our area practice. (It makes me look slow and lazy in comparison)
“I don’t care anymore. He said. I have nothing to prove. I used to work all day, then turn around and work on something else after I got off work….but not any more. Like I said, I have nothing to prove.”
“That makes me feel good hearing you say that,” I told him!
My family is not Amish per say, but I am a 4th generation German immigrant. My Great Grandfather, Grandfather and father also farmed, spoke low German and worked from sun up till sun down.
I don’t “sprekenze Deutsche” but but growing up, I did tend a small dairy herd. When I turned 14 I started working on my dad’s construction crew. My day started at 5:30, milked 18 to 20 cows, then worked from 7 till 5:30 pouring concrete, go home, milk again, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. In all of my years growing up, I remember just one 2 day vacation to the Wisconsin Dells.
Hard to find someone to cover for you when you are a dairy farmer.
When I graduated high school I packed my bags and moved out a month later.
It took me almost 10 years after that before I was able to finally stick a cork in the voice in my head that accused me of being lazy when I tried to take a nap on a Sunday Afternoon….
So driving by the job site and observing those young Amish men putting in long days like that stirred up two distinct thoughts…
#1. I felt sorry for them….especially the young ones. They don’t know any different, and unfortunately for them, it would be 100 times harder to break away than it was for me.
#2. Secondly, it made me thankful. Thankful that I have been set free from that driven lifestyle.
“It is vain that you rise up early, and go late to bed, eating the bread of anxious toil….for the Lord gives to his beloved rest (or he gives to his beloved, even while they rest”)
(It’s one of my favorite Psalms…I wrote it down on an index card and repeated it every time I started to feel guilty about not working hard enough back in the day.)
You don’t have to be Amish to be driven.
How about you? Have you figured out that magical blend of work and rest, work and leisure, Work and family?
What does the word leisure conjure up when you hear it?
How do you recharge your batteries emotionally and every which way?